George Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign minister, has again stated that he will not be running in the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election which must be held no later than 13 September.
Despite repeated denials, there has been speculation that Mr Yeo may be considering the largely ceremonial role of president in Singapore.
During a lunchtime talk about the second of his three-book series Musings at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, Mr Yeo was asked if he would contest the presidential election or re-enter party politics by taking part in general elections.
South China Morning Post reported that Mr Yeo responded with a firm “no” to both questions.
“[My answers are] ‘no’ to both questions.”
George Yeo was the leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP) team which contested and lost Aljunied GRC to the opposition Workers’ party in in the 2011 General Election. He later opted out of Presidential Race in the same year.
Despite retiring from politics in 2011, he has continued to participate in public events and media interviews.
In August last year, George Yeo told local Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao that he will not contest in 2023 presidential election.
The 68-year-old former PAP politician said being president requires discipline in behavior and speech, and he prefers to remain free and unconstrained.
“I’m a bit of a free spirit, I like to talk, I like to speculate… Sometimes I’m politically incorrect in the things I say. Now that I’m in semi-retirement, I relish and cherish this freedom.”
“So this is not a prospect which attracts me, ” he told the reporter.
Mr. Yeo was the chairman of Kerry Logistics Network from August 2012 until November 2013 and became an independent non-executive director of Creative Technology in 2021.
He has also been an independent non-executive director of AIA Group since 2012 and Pinduoduo since 2018.
Lee Hsien Yang expressed his interest in running for presidential election
Last week, Lee Hsien Yang (LHY), the younger brother of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has expressed his interest in running for president in the upcoming election, adding to the ongoing political drama surrounding the Lee family.
LHY, a former chief executive of Singtel and former chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, made this announcement after the government revealed an ongoing police investigation against him and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, over the handling of his father’s last will.
The presidential election is set to take place by September this year, and Lee Hsien Yang’s potential run could prove problematic for the ruling People’s Action Party, which is headed by his brother.
He said that there is a view that, depending on who the ruling party floats, “if I were to run, they would be in serious trouble and could lose.”
The last presidential election – a reserved election for Malays – was a walkover election for Mdm Halimah Yacob after two interested candidates were disqualified by the raised qualification criteria for candidates from the private sector.
However, the ongoing investigation may affect LHY’s candidacy. “What the chances are that I will return to Singapore in the foreseeable future,” said LHY to Bloomberg.
So far, the PAP has not revealed its preferred candidate for the presidential election. However rumours on the ground suggest that Lee Hsien Yang’s sister-in-law, Ho Ching, may also be keen on running for the position. However, it is unlikely for Ho Ching to win in a contested election due to public opinion.
The president of Singapore represents the country in official diplomatic functions and has some executive powers, including control of the national reserves and the ability to veto and revoke public service appointments.
The outcome of the election could have significant implications for Singapore’s political landscape, as tensions continue to simmer within the Lee family and the ruling PAP.